Colleen Laurent

Architecture BA

Lecturers are really approachable. I wouldn’t hesitate to email them or ask if I could meet them. 

What attracted you to Architecture?

Growing up, I used to spend a lot of time with my dad visiting the sites where he was a building contractor. I liked the idea of designing and he used to ask my opinions – it just became something I grew to love.

And why did you choose Kent?

What stood out to me was that you can travel as part of your course but you don’t have to do a sandwich year. In first year we did a project in Barcelona, designing an art gallery; this year I’m going to Italy.

What aspects of your course have you really enjoyed?

I love the studio and the fact that it’s open 22/7. I like working quite late so it suits me really well. You’ve got the computers and the drawing boards, there’s plenty of space to work and you can do your modelling. And because you’ve got all the year groups mixing together in the studio, you can hear other people’s opinions and see what they’re doing and how it relates to your own work. It’s a real community.

What are your favourite modules?

The module I’m doing at the moment is going well, I like it a lot. It’s called Urban Intervention and it’s basically about adapting buildings. We’re working at the [University’s] Medway campus, in the Historic Dockyard. I think my favourite, though, was Collective Dwelling, which we did last year. We designed a series of homes alongside a local creek; it was a lot of fun for me because I could be really creative, really conceptual in terms of my idea, and I like doing housing.

What do you think of the support available?

The peer mentor scheme is very helpful – my mentor now is in fifth year [on the MArch programme] and gives me all sorts of tips. Lecturers are really approachable. I wouldn’t hesitate to email them or ask if I could meet them. The School invites guest lecturers in, too – different architects, or maybe an artist or digital media company. It helps to see what the working world is like and what other people are doing.

What are the other students on your course like?

I’ve met so many different people. My circle of friends is from Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. It really helps with the course because architecture is a worldwide thing but the styles change depending on where you are, so it’s interesting to see what other people bring to the table.

What social activities are you involved in?

I’m in the Christian Performing Arts Society and I do spoken-word poetry. We’ve done a poetry café and open-mic nights. I’ve always been a sporty person so I did football but it takes up a lot of time and I didn’t carry on with it after first year. I’m also a brand manager for Teach First and promote it around the campus and at careers fairs.

How do you think you have changed over your time at university?

I think I’ve definitely grown a lot in confidence, both academically and in public speaking. You often have to do presentations in architecture, and that has given me confidence in speaking about my work in front of academics.

What are your plans for after graduation?

If you want to be a qualified chartered architect, you do a year in industry once you have your first degree, then you do a two-year Master’s, then another year in industry. I really want to do the Master’s but I want to travel, too – to Canada and the Caribbean – so I’ll probably take a break from studying for a while.

Any advice for future students?

Be open to possibilities and don’t confine yourself in a box. At this uni there is a lot of emphasis on the creative side as well as the technical side. And also I would definitely say criticism is a good thing. You get a lot of design tutors giving you a lot of input, which is really, really helpful. Just take it all in, just soak it up, and you’ll become comfortable with all of it.